Sneak Peek…The New Prince String Line…(WOW!)

Disclaimer: it’s not every day that one of our great American tennis brands revamps its string line. So please forgive us in advance if we seem a little excited.

From comfortable and powerful multifilaments to crisp and spin-friendly co-polys, the 2014 Prince string line has something for everyone. Let’s take a brief tour of their offerings.

The Premier Series – Multifilaments

Prince Premier Series

Prince’s Premier line of strings features three very tendon-friendly multifilaments loaded with pop. Offering three distinct levels of firmness and playability, the Premier line gives the multifilament player the ability to select the one with just the right feel. Premier Touch, the softest of the bunch, features a very innovative ribbon core which is designed to have the responsiveness of natural gut. This new offering comes in three gauges, including 15L(!), which should please anyone who wants a side of durability and directional control with their comfort and power. As with the very unique Isospeed and Head ribbon technology strings, this one has an almost unbelievable level of vibration dampening (which makes it the perfect match for today’s lighter, stiffer frames). Coming in slightly firmer is Premier Power which updates Premier LT and continues to offer exceptional comfort. This update features an army of shock absorbing fibers wrapped in high density nylon filaments for improved durability. Finally, we have the firmest member of the Premier clan, Premier Control. Like the string it replaces, Premier Attack, this one features a stiff tri-core center wrapped in velvety soft nylon filaments. The result is a comfortably firm feel delivering near poly-like control without taxing the tendons like a traditional monofilament.
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Sneak peak – Polyfibre TCS

 

Polyfibre TCS — Buy it here!!

The basic facts

  • Construction: co-polymer monofilament

  • Gauges: 16, 16L, 17

  • Color(s): Yellow

  • Available in: sets and reels

  • Maximum comfort and pocketing for a poly-based string.

  • Recommended to big hitters looking for the durability, spin and control of polyester with lower levels of impact shock and vibration.

How does it play?

Comfort meets spin and control!

Given the level of comfort it delivers, TCS should be allowed to defect from the polyester universe. In contrast to a crisp poly, this string is dampened and noticeably more forgiving off-center. One of the most distinctive features of TCS is the pocketing, which provides players with the pronounced sensation of grabbing hold of the ball. The result is a level of spin and control that matches some of the best shaped polys on the market. The main downside of TCS is poor tension maintenance, a very common problem with poly-based strings. All in all, TCS is a must try for big hitters who want maximum comfort, touch and pocketing from a firm control string.

 Playtester comments

  • “Probably the most comfortable string I’ve ever used! The ball pocketing and plush feel was refreshing.”

  • “It’s not textured, not shaped, but yet, I find this string to give me as much, if not more spin than any other strings out there. It’s amazing watching a ball that I thought I hit long drop in at the last nano-second and clip the baseline.”

  • “Even with all the spin potential and the great ball pocketing for power, I found the control to be excellent as well. There wasn’t a drop off in this department just because it excelled in the power and spin categories.”

  • “I never had any comfort issues with this one despite stringing it at 60 lbs in a very stiff racquet. Off center hits never felt excessively jarring and anything near the center felt plush.”

String of the week – Head FXP Tour

HFXPT16-BL-1

The basic facts

  • Construction: Four polyester fibers wrapped with 8 multifilament layers and a no-friction outer shell.

  • Gauges: 16 & 17

  • Color(s): Black & Blue

  • Available in: sets and reels

  • Feel: Comfortable (and quite muted) compared to a traditional polyester

  • Recommended to intermediates looking to transition into a more control oriented string. Also great for advanced players looking for the control, durability and spin of a co-poly with less impact shock and vibration on off-center hits. Adds comfort to lighter, stiffer frames.

How does it play?

Control meets comfort!

Head FXP Tour blends stiff and soft materials to provide a comfortably firm and somewhat muted feel with a nice balance of pop and precision, akin to a well crafted hybrid. The core of this innovative string is comprised of four polyester fibers. This supplies control and durability but with a friendlier feel and less vibration than a polyester monofilament. Surrounding the core are eight multifilament wraps designed to increase shock absorption and comfort. Head constructs this one with a firm and slippery coating to allow the strings to move out of position and snapback with more force. The result is easy access to spin punctuated by more RPMs and some explosive bounces. Players looking for exceptional durability, precision and spin (along with impressive comfort and liveliness for a control string) are encouraged to check this one out.

Staff feedback

  • Low vibration. Not a bad option for the poly player who is looking for a genuine boost in comfort. Somewhat muted feel.
  • Nice bite and pocketing with easy access to spin.
  • Plays like a very responsive hybrid with a good blend of control, durability and pop.
  • Very Versatile! Can be strung a little tighter than a monofilament to add more control without giving away too much comfort. Strung looser, this one provides a soft ride with some nice touch on volleys.

 

Sneak Peak – Signum Pro Firestorm

Screen shot 2013-04-25 at 12.49.46 PM

 

The basic facts

  • Construction: Co-polyester monofilament with additives to boost comfort and power
  • Gauges: 16 (1.30mm) and 17 (1.25mm)
  • Color(s): Gold
  • Available in: sets and reels
  • Feel: firm with above average comfort for a poly-based string
  • Recommended to: intermediate and advanced players with long, fast strokes
  • Pros using this string: Mikhail Youzhny

How does it play?

This firm and durable co-poly is ideal for intermediate and advanced level players who like to swing big. Make no mistake though, this is not a dead poly made only for the biggest hitters. Indeed, what distinguishes this very playable control string is the high level of comfort and power. For this reason Firestorm fits perfectly inside the growing ranks of friendlier, more elastic co-polys like Dunlop Black Widow and Tourna Big Hitter Black 7. While this string is not likely to have enough pop or comfort for the player who prefers the ultra-soft feel of a multifilament or natural gut, it does provide big hitters with a cozy new option for adding some spark and spin to their game.

What our playtesters said

“You can really feel the ball jumping off the stringbed. I actually found I had to increase my tension a couple of pounds to harness a bit of the power and get the control that I needed.” 

“The ball sinks into the strings nicely, so when you do take a big rip at it, you are rewarded with good spin.”

“I found this string to be very comfortable for a co-poly. It felt like it was pocketing the ball exceptionally well.” 

“This turned out to be one of the longer playing co-polys I’ve tested. The longevity may be slightly to do with the higher reference tension I used, but comfort was never an issue for me over a four week test — very impressive for a poly.”

Check out our playtest video!

Strings for big hitters on a budget…

 

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the magic of Babolat RPM Blast …

….with its innovative cross-linked silicone coating, vicious snap back and otherworldly spin. I also appreciate the miracle that is Luxilon, especially on the professional tour, where strings like Alu Power have enabled the tornadic angular whip of the modern topspin game, allowing for exponentially higher levels of spin and control. Indeed, it only takes a few topspin forehands with either of these strings to realize why consumers shell out top dollar.

Does this mean you have to spend over $10 to get a good string?

If a polyester string costs less than $10 will it not snapback? Will it prevent me from reaching my personal best tennis? I humbly submit that the answer is “no”. Savvy consumers who are willing to poke around can find great performance for a low price.

For the love of Gosen

Of course, if you don’t feel like poking around, just go to the Gosen string page. There you will find the sorts of low cost/high performance strings that make home stringers giddy. More specifically, you will find the original Polylon, which prompted our resident polyester expert, Chris Edwards, to declare, “This string is legit. Sweet as a nut right off the stringer.” Needless to say, after a few sessions with Polylon, it’s easy to conclude that the $2.95 price tag is a typo.

For a softer feeling poly at a great price, there is the technology advanced Polybreak which provides the incredible spin and control of the original Polylon but with a slightly more flexible response. Finally, no mention of Gosen is complete without paying homage to OG Micro, an extremely responsive synthetic gut which has long been the standard-issue reel for stringers in need of reliable hybrid parts.

Gosen Polylon

Gosen Polybreak

And Tourna . . .

Poly players who have not experienced any of Tourna’s co-polys are hereby advised to make some room on their demo list for Big Hitter Silver and Big Hitter Blue (which both come in Rough versions for added grip). These innovative co-polys are not only loaded with control, spin and feel, they are steals at under $8. For players who like comfy (yet crisp) polys, Tourna Big Hitter Black 7 offers a combination of bite, comfort and control that is near impossible to beat for under $10. As someone who ran lab tests on the early prototypes of this string, I can safely say that the Tourna crew is extremely serious about meeting their design goals. They also have an ultra-comfortable multifilament called Quasi-Gut which is softer than NXT and NRG2 (at half the cost).

Tourna Big Hitter Silver

Tourna Big Hitter Blue Rough

MSV and Topspin

Big hitters on a budget do not have to sacrifice liveliness or comfort as long as Topspin keeps making Cyber Blue and Cyber Flash. The results from our TWU lab tests place these amongst the softest polys on the market. Another company with some impressively playable low cost polys is MSV. You can start by reading our string review of Focus Hex, a medium-firm co-poly with incredible control. After that, give both Co-Focus and Hepta-Twist a serious look. These meticulously engineered co-polys fit perfectly inside the growing ranks of elastic, user-friendly monofilaments, offering advanced players a friendlier response without sacrificing any spin or control.

Topspin Cyber Blue

MSV Co.-Focus

MSV Hepta-Twist

JW

 

String Review: Polyfibre TCS 16

After hearing rave reviews about it, I gave the Polyfibre TCS 16 gauge a try. It comes very highly praised from a number of TW playtesters as well as a number of ATP and WTA players. Advertised as being one of the softest and best feeling co-polys around, I looked forward to playing with it.

Stringing with the TCS was pretty much standard for a polyester string; stiff with not a whole lot of stretch. I strung my racquet at 56 lbs, and it was a somewhat difficult string, about on par with many of the other polyester strings on the market.

With the first strike of the ball I noticed the softness and the excellent bite the TCS had. For a co-poly, the softness made it very reasonable on the arm, and did not cause much discomfort. The softness of the TCS also provided me with lots of touch and feel, giving me a lot of control and command with all my shots.

What I liked most on the groundstrokes was the amount of spin I was able to generate off both the forehand and the backhand, as well as the backhand slice. Topspin shots were heavy and jumping off the court, and the slice had excellent bite and stayed low to the ground.

When volleying and serving, I had excellent control and bite with the TCS. Because the string was so soft, along with its excellent ball pocketing, I could control the ball really well and generate good control. The string is not too “explosive” and does not have a lot of “pop” like a Luxilon Big Banger ALU Power does, but because of the softness and spin potential of the TCS it enabled to have lots of command over my volleys and serves.

There were only two things about the TCS that stood out to me that I did not particularly like. First, as mentioned before, the string did not have a lot of “pop”, and thus generating pace was a little more difficult than I would have liked. I prefer a little more “explosive” string. The second thing I did not like was the tension maintenance, as the string lost tension quite quickly. After about a week the string tension had dropped considerably and I needed to cut them out.

Aside from that, the TCS was a very nice string that I would recommend it to players that prefer a polyester string but have a history of arm problems. The extreme softness of this string makes it very arm-friendly for a polyester, and along with the ball pocketing it also provides the player with lots of control and spin

Andy.

Signum Pro Hyperion 17 String Review

sighyp170-1Signum Pro-Poly Plasma has been a popular polyester string, both with our play testers as well as with members of our Talk Tennis message boards (Editor’s note: It was at the request of our Talk Tennis members that we tried Signum strings and added them to stock). Signum Pro’s Hyperion 17 is one of Signum’s newest co-polyester strings, designed to provide the exceptional playability of Poly Plasma along with some added crispness and comfort.

When stringing Hyperion it felt fairly similar to the Poly Plasma, with a slightly firmer feel. It was relatively easy to string compared to others polys on the market, as it did not tangle much nor was it extremely stiff.

The first impression I had of Hyperion was it made for a lively stringbed and a crisp feel. With this string, the ball explodes off the stringbed, which was a nice surprise as co-polys tend to have more of a dead feel to them. There was also excellent control and the tension was maintained nicely throughout the string life.

The main characteristics that stood out to me while hitting with Hyperion was the crispness and liveliness of the stringbed and the great control I had on all my shots. It was extremely comfortable to hit. I could really feel the ball grab the strings, then be released off the stringbed nicely. Even with the lively feel, I did not lose control, as would normally be the case. I was able to place the ball extremely well, and not lose accuracy, which is what typically happens when I find such a lively feel.

I was not able to generate as much power and pop as I would normally with my regular hybrid string job of Luxilon ALU Power mains with Wilson NXT crosses, nor was I able to generate as much spin. The string still maintained a nice amount of control. However, I like to feel that I have the ability to crack a mid-court ball and put it away, or be able to generate ample spin on a defensive ball so I can take a full swing and still bring it back into the court and I lost a little of both with Hyperion 17.

Overall, I had a nice experience hitting with Hyperion 17. Though the life span was short (I broke it on my third day of hitting), it was a really nice feeling co-poly string. Signum places this string in its performance group of strings, and with its playability, tension maintenance, and control, Hyperion has a lot to offer.

Andy.